Mike Stanton in spotlight

Mike Stanton was a founding member of Creating Socialism. He publishes regularly as a contributor to our daily news output and helps others by assisting with the editing. He has been involved with Critical Mass since its inception.

Mike says he became a socialist at grammar school when he witnessed middle class wealth and privilege first hand for the first time. After school he had a variety of jobs in shops and offices before following his father onto the docks. There he discovered a strong union and took part in frequent strikes. In 1977 he stood for parliament as a candidate for the SWP.

Mike left the docks behind him to train as a teacher and worked in a school for pupils with learning difficulties until he retired a few years ago. He has written a book about autism, given lectures and, in addition to his writing on Critical Mass, writes a blog. By 2015 Mike had all but dropped out of politics but says it was Corbyn who rejuvenated him. He joined the Labour Party and is still there, but possibly not for much longer.

Which book do you think all socialists should read?Listening to a Pogrom on the Radio: poems by Michael Rosen. 
According to Michael “Poetry can stick up for the weak or it can mock the mighty. It can glorify our rulers or it can dissect them. You choose.” His poems do this and so much more. Michael does not presume to tell us what to think. He encourages us to look at the world through fresh eyes in order to reach our own conclusions. And he asks us to “remember that your teachers were once themselves taught.”   
What was the most important event in the history of socialism?The English Revolution in which for the first time in history, a monarch was toppled, not by a rival for the throne but by a rival to the throne, a sovereign people. Which is why it is consistently misrepresented as a civil war and not a revolution.
Who would you rate as the outstanding political leader of your generation?Martin Luther King Junior for his courage, his speeches and his belief in mobilising massive numbers to fight for their own freedom.
Which film should socialists watch?Salt of the Earth, made in 1954 by blacklisted Hollywood film makers and actors. It described itself as “An honest movie about American working people” and tells the story of a miners strike in which the men come to understand that their wives’ struggle against oppression is inseparable from their own fight against the bosses. Intersectionality is nothing new!
Which single political event was most instrumental in your political development?Not one event, but a year of events, 1968.
With which historical socialist do you most identify?Friedrich Engels for his loyalty and generosity of spirit, the breadth of his intellect and his undying dedication to the cause of socialism.
Which single reform could make capitalism work?Capitalism cannot be reformed. But fighting for reforms can build the degree of solidarity we need to overthrow it.
Have you ever been on strike, if so, did you win?I was often on strike as a docker. Unofficial strikes were common, short lived and usually victorious. We had one long strike in 1979 over manning levels that ended in a messy compromise, a sign of things to come with the Tories under Thatcher determined to break the power of the unions.  
Do you think we can get socialism through the ballot box?We cannot win socialism through the ballot box but it can help us to win the argument for socialism.
What do you do when you are not doing politics?Gardening, reading, writing, hill walking, listening to music and wishing I could play it.
Do you ever feel like giving up politically and why don’t you?I did give up for many years after a mental breakdown. Corbyn relit my spark and Creating Socialism now keeps the flame alive.
Are you an optimist or a pessimist when you think of the future for the left?It’s a cycle. We are struggling in the aftermath of defeat at present. But as long as capitalism survives it will provoke resistance and that gives me hope.
Is socialism inevitable?No. But socialism is necessary. Without it, capitalism will destroy the earth. I grew up in the shadow of the bomb. Now I think that climate catastrophe is a greater threat than nuclear holocaust. The struggle continues because socialism is our only hope.

Spotlight on Ann Marcial from Issue 4

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